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as about the tombs of friends and companions; for there is something of companionship between the author and the reader. Well may posterity be grateful to his memory; for he has left it an inheritance, not of empty names and sounding actions, but whole treasures of wisdom, bright gems of thought, and golden veins of language. I entered that part of the abbey which contains the sepulchres of the kings. I wandered among what were once chapels, but which are now occupied by the tombs and monuments of the great. At every turn I met with some illustrious name, or the cognizance of some powerful house renowned in history. As the eye darts into these dusky chambers of death, it catches glimpses of quaint effigies; some kneeling in niches, as if in devotion; others stretched upon tombs, with hands piously pressed together; warriors in armour, as if reposing after battle; prelates with crosiers and mitres; and nobles in robes and coronets, lying as it were in state. In glancing over this scene, so strangely populous, yet where every form is so still and silent, it seems almost as if we were treading a mansion of that fabled city, where every being had been suddenly transmuted into stone.
In the opposite transept to Poets' Corner stands a monument which is one of the most renowned achievements of modern art; but which to me appears horrible rather than sublime. It is the tomb of Mrs. Nightingale by Roubillac. The bottom of the monument is represented as throwing open its marble doors, and a sheeted skeleton is starting forth. The shroud is falling from his fieshless frame, as he launches his dart at his victim. She is sinking into her affrighted husband's arms, who strives, with vain and frantic effort, to avert the blow. The whole is executed with terrible truth and spirit. We almost fancy we hear the gibbering yell of triumph, bursting from the distorted jaws of the spectre. But why should we thus seek to clothe death with unnecessary terrors, and to spread horrors around the tomb of those we love? The grave should be surrounded by everything that might inspire tenderness and veneration for the dead, or that might win the living to virtue. It is the place, not of distrust and dismay, but of sorrow and meditation.
Two small aisles on each side of one of the chapels present a touching instance of the equality of the grave. In one is the sepulchre of the haughty Elizabeth; in the other is that of her victim, the lovely and unfortunate Mary. Not an hour in the day, but some ejaculation of pity is uttered over the fate of the latter, mingled with indignation at her oppressor. The walls of Elizabeth's sepulchre continually echo with the sighs of sympathy, heaved at the grave of her rival. A peculiar melancholy reigns over the place where Mary lies buried. The light struggles dimly through windows darkened by dust. The greater part of the place is in deep shadow, and the walls are stained and tinted by time and weather. A marble figure of Mary is stretched upon the tomb, around which is an iron railing, much corroded, bearing her national emblem, the thistle. I was weary with wandering, and sat down to rest myself by the monument, revolving in my mind the checkered and disastrous story of poor Mary.
The sound of casual footsteps had ceased from the abbey. I could only hear, now and then, the distant voice of the priest repeating the evening service, and tho faint responses of the choir. These paused for a time, and all was hushed. Suddenly the notes of the deepabouring organ burst upon the ear, falling with doubled land redoubled intensity, and rolling, as it were, huge billows of sound. How well do their volume and grandeur accord with this mighty building! With what pomp do they swell through its vast vaults, and breathe their awful harmony through these caves of death, and make the silent sepulchre vocal! And now they rise in triumphant acclamation, heaving higher and higher their accordant notes, and piling sound on sound. And now they pause, and the soft voices of the choir break out into sweet gushes of melod}; they soar aloft and warble along the roof, and seem to play about these lofty vaults like the pure airs of heaven. Again the pealing organ heaves its thrilling thunders, compressing air into music, and rolling it forth upon the soul. What longdrawn cadences! What solemn sweeping concords! It grows more and more dense and powerful; it fills the vast pile, and seems to jar the very walls; the ear is stunned; the senses are overwhelmed; and now it is winding up in full jubilee; it is rising from earth to heaven; the very soul seems rapt away, and floating upward on this swelling note of harmony!
I sat for some time lost in that kind of reverie which a strain of music is apt sometimes to inspire. The shadows of evening were gradually thickening around me; the monuments began to cast a deeper gloom; and the distant clock gave token of the slowly waning day. I rose and retraced my morning's walk, and as I passed out at the portal of the cloisters, the door, closing with a jarring noise behind me, filled the whole building with echoes. I endeavoured to form some arrangement in
my mind of the objects I had been contemplating, but found they were already passing into indistinctness and confusion. "What," thought I, " is this vast assemblage of sepulchres but a treasury of humiliation; a huge pile of reiterated homilies on the emptiness of renown and the certainty of oblivion? It is, indeed, the empire of death; his great and shadowy palace; where he sits in state, mocking at the relics of human glory, and spreading dust and forgetfulness on the monuments of princes. How idle a boast, after all, is the immortality of a name! Time is ever silently turning over his pages. We are too much engrossed by the story of the present to think of the character and anecdotes that gave interest to the past; and each age is a volume thrown aside to be speedily forgotten. The idol of to-day, pushes the hero of yesterday out of our recollection; and will in turn be supplanted by his successor of tomorrow.
What, then, is to ensure this pile; which now towers above me, from sharing the fate of mightier mausoleums? The time must come when its gilded vaults, which now spring so loftily, shall lie in rubbish beneath the feet; when, instead of the sound of melody and praise, the wind shall whistle through the broken arches, and the owl hoot from the shattered tower; when the garish sunbeam shall break into these gloomy mansions ot death; and the ivy twine around the fallen columns; and the foxglove hang its blossoms about the nameless urn, as if in mockery of the dead. Thus man passes away; his name perishes from record and from recollection; his history is a tale that is told, and his very monument becomes a ruin.—Washington Irving.
LESSON LXXXVI. THE PYRAMIDS.
The approach to the Pyramids is first a rich green plain, and then the Desert; that is, they are just at the beginning of the Desert, on a ridge, which of itself gives them a lift above the Valley of the Nile. It is impossible not to feel a thrill, as one finds oneself drawing nearer to the greatest and the most ancient monuments in the world, to see them coming out stone by stone into view, and the dark head of the Sphinx peering over the lower sandhills. Yet the usual accounts are correct which represent this nearer sight as not impressive—their size diminishes, and the clearness with which you see their several stones strips them of their awful or mysterious character. It is not till you are close under the great Pyramid, and look up at the huge blocks rising above you into the sky, that the consciousness is forced upon you that this is the nearest approach to a mountain that the art of man has produced.
The view from the top has the same vivid contrast of Life and Death, which makes all wide views in Egypt striking—the Desert and the green plain: only the view over the Desert—the African Desert—being much more extensive here than elsewhere, one gathers in better the notion of the wide-heaving ocean of sandy billows which hovers on the edge of the Valley of the Nile. The white line of the minarets of Cairo is also a peculiar feature— peculiar because it is strange to see a modern Egyptian city which is a grace instead of a deformity to the view You also see the strip of Desert which marks Heliopolis and Goshen. -
The strangest feature in the view is the platforra on